Tepui has new owners. On Monday, Thule announced it had bought the California-based rooftop tent company.
Founded in 2010 by Evan and Gabriela Currid, Tepui makes some of the most well-known and well-loved roof-mounted tents in the country. The pop-up designs pack down to low-profile cubes and unfurl to sleep anywhere from two to four people, all with foam mattresses built in for quick setup and comfortable sleeping anywhere.
For Thule, which specializes in hauling and storage gear like bike and roof racks, strollers, and luggage, acquiring a stake in the rooftop tent market made sense. In a press release yesterday, Thule CEO Magnus Welander explained how Thule’s expertise in vehicle-mounted gear-carrying systems and Tepui’s expertise in the rooftop-tent space complement one another. Many Tepui users rely on Thule roof racks to mount their tents, so a merger provides opportunities for streamlined design, supply-chain management, and marketing.
Likewise, Tepui president Evan Currid says that moving under the Thule umbrella felt like a natural step. “When the Thule Group approached us, the connection between the mindset, product portfolios, and the two brands was obvious,” Currid said in the press release. “We knew we had found the perfect partner to continue to grow this great product category.”
More broadly, the move points to the recent growth of the rooftop-tent industry. “In the past five years, we have seen the number of rooftop-tent companies grow by over 400 percent,” says Scott Brady, CEO of Overland International, “with available models now counting in the hundreds.” Chris Ritchie, public-relations and communications manager for Thule, says that the brand has been watching the burgeoning trend over the past few years and felt like now was the right time to make its entry into the market.
If history is any indication, Tepui loyalists need not be concerned that their favorite brand—or favorite products—will change under new ownership. Ritchie points to Thule’s ownership of Chariot bike trailers, Yepp kids’ bike seats, and TracRac truck ladder racks. “For years [after the acquisitions], the product never really changed,” says Ritchie. “It was just available to more consumers.” The same will go for Tepui tents, which will retain their original branding and design, at least for the foreseeable future. Thule said it has no plans to change Tepui’s upper management, including Evan Currid, who will stay on as president of the company’s new rooftop-tents division.
Time will tell if Thule’s purchase spurs further growth in the rooftop-tent market. Overlanding is becoming more and more popular in mainstream outdoors culture, and other companies may decide they want a stake.